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Bill Threatens to Ban U.S. from Adopting Russian Orphans; Lakhdar Brahimi in Moscow for Talks with Syrian, Russian Officials; Profile of Rise of the Guardians Director; Profile of Manila Street Kid Turned Philanthropist Kesz Valdez

Aired December 27, 2012 - 08:00:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, HOST: I'm Jim Clancy at CNN Center sitting in for Kristie Lu Stout. Welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

We begin with the crisis in Syria. New diplomatic moves in Damascus. But is a breakthrough really any closer?

Also ahead, fury in New Delhi: protesters continue to vent their anger of a gang rape and what see as government indifference.

And caught in the middle, how children could be directly affected by a growing dispute between the U.S. and Russia.

Hello. And welcome everyone. International envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi says the civil war could be over, and I'm quoting here, in a few months. But there's a big if there. He says first all parties must agree to a plan for a transitional government. Brahimi was speaking at the end of a five day visit to the Syrian capital. At the weekend, he will travel to Russia, the country that supplies most of Syria's weapons, to push for a peaceful end to the conflict.

But one name was left unspoken today, that of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. And the success of Brahimi's plan could hinge on what role, if any, the current leader could play in the country's future.

Brahimi may hear a slightly different tone when he travels to Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin, historically a backer of Bashar al-Assad said last week keeping him in power was not Russia's priority. Brahimi's last proposal for ending the crisis suggested the Syrian president could play a role in a transitional government, but the Syrian opposition and several international powers have balked at that prospect.

Now, as the talking goes on, so does the fighting. Opposition activists say 35 people have been killed in the violence already today.

Mohammed Jamjoom joins us live from Beirut in neighboring Lebanon, his watch post there in Beirut.

Mohammed, there had been a lot of rumors of some kind of a secret deal going on between Moscow and Washington. And Brahimi seemed to take that on head on.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. Not just Brahimi today denying that there was any kind of deal brokered between the U.S. and Russia when it comes to Syria, also Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said today said the same. There was a meeting today between the deputy foreign minister of Syria with Russian officials and Moscow. They were trying to discuss diplomatic and political solutions to the crisis in Syria. Not a lot of details have emerged from that, but we did here from the foreign ministry in Russia today that there was no deal between the U.S. and Russia when it came -- or any secret negotiations when it came to Syria.

We also heard as you said, though, directly from Lakhdar Brahimi who was speaking to reporters in Damascus today before departing. And he also reiterated that. Here's more of what the Joint UN-Arab League envoy had to say about that point.


LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, UN-ARAB LEAGUE ENVOY TO SYRIA (through translator): Some said in Syria and outside Syria that I have come here to market a Russian-American project. I wish there was a Russian-American project. There is no Russian-American project. And hence I did not come here to market it.


JAMJOOM: And that really goes to show just how difficult these negotiations are. The fact that Lakhdar Brahimi is saying he hopes that there were this type of agreement or a negotiation because having the U.S. and Russian agreement on where to go when it comes to Syria would really help end the diplomatic deadlock that's going on.

You said it best a few minutes ago, Jim, you said that it really depends on what role Bashar al-Assad would play in a transitional government. And we haven't heard those details yet. What we have heard are other international powers expressing yet again that they do not want Bashar al-Assad to play any role in a transitional government. The French reiterated that today.

And we also heard from the National Coalition of Syria, the main opposition group and they said that to us as well. They said while they would like to work with Lakhdar Brahimi on trying to effect some sort of transitional government, they don't believe that Bashar al-Assad is serious about doing so. They believe that he is negotiating only to buy more time.

They also told us, we will show good faith toward Brahimi's initiatives and the talks about the need to launch a transitional government, but we have our conditions. For Assad to stay in power is a no way, non-negotiable, never. We are ready to agree on a transitional government, but we will only work with those in the regime who were never involved in the bloodshed in Syria and the daily onslaught of our people in order to reach out that final phase of a peaceful transition -- Jim.

CLANCY: Well, with that kind of a hard line, a real line in the sand, with a lack of diplomacy, with no plan, the killing continues on the ground. And Mohammed I've got to note, there was a time when we would look at a day with 100 casualties and think this is a very serious day or week of those casualties, to say this was the worst in the conflict. Those days are long gone. The numbers now soaring.

JAMJOOM: That's right. We've been talking about this a lot the last few days, Jim. Yesterday by day's end, opposition sources telling us at least 140 killed. The day before, at least 170. The day before that, close to 200. Today it's only just after 3:00 pm in Syria, already reports are that at least 35 people have been killed across the country as a result of violence.

And we're hearing of a lot of violence going on in different parts of the country. There's some amateur video that we'd like to point out to our viewers. This one purports to show barrel bombs being dropped in Telbise (ph) in Homs Province. The opposition activists were speaking there saying that they are encountering air raids, that helicopters are dropping barrels full of TNT as well as other materials to maximize the damage. And they say that there was also a bakery hit as a result of this strike here.

But we're also hearing about air raids going on in Binish (ph), in the north of the country. And that there's another amateur video I'd like to point our viewers' attention to that purports to show the aftermath of what opposition activists are calling more barrel bombing, more barrel bombs being dropped by regime forces, by helicopters on that area. You see utter devastation of that neighborhood. It appears as though it's just a chaotic scene with the residents there trying desperately to find survivors of that air raid that's been going on.

The regime has not commented on these air strikes today, but again as you said it used to be we talked about days with death tolls like the last few days it was a rarity, it's becoming more and more frequent. In the nearly two years of this conflict over 40,000 people killed -- Jim.

CLANCY: Mohammed Jamjoom reporting there for us live from Beirut.

Well, turning now to Egypt, the Arab Spring has always been about economics. And President Mohamed Morsi paid tribute to that pledging he's going to boost his nation's struggling economy. What he didn't say was how. Mr. Morsi addressed Egyptians after signing the new constitution into law. He says he will reshuffle his government. And he had this response to those who have accused him of a power grab.


MOHAMED MORSI, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): I'm not in love with the power and I'm not one of those who are keen to dominate the power. The Egyptian people have the power. They can give it to anyone they want. And they can take it away from anyone they want.


CLANCY: Now the run-up to the vote sparked these violent protests. Critics have argued the constitution does not protect the rights of women or religious minorities. The next step is legislative elections. They're expected early next year.

When News Stream. continues, we'll give you an update on the health of George H.W. Bush. The former U.S. president remains in intensive care at a Houston hospital.

And there's welcome news for another former president. Nelson Mandela left the hospital in South Africa this morning. We'll be live with the latest.

And at the height of the holiday travel season, the weather is making life very difficult indeed for millions of Americans. We've got the forecast straight ahead.


CLANCY: You are with News Stream.

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush remains in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Houston, Texas. He's been at that facility for the past month. He was receiving treatment for bronchitis. He was transferred to the intensive care unit on Sunday due to what a family spokesman called a series of setbacks. The 88 year old is in guarded condition now. He's been placed on a liquid diet. He's said to be alert and surrounded by his family.

Meantime in South Africa, Nelson Mandela has been discharged from the hospital after spending nearly three weeks there for a lung infection and other health problems. Robyn Curnow is at CNN Johannesburg with more.

Robyn, how much do we know about his health status right now?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, over the past three weeks the government has been fairly brief with its information. We don't know much, but we do know that he's no longer in hospital, that he's recovering at home. And for many South Africans there's sort of a collective sigh of relief to hear that.

Take a look at this story.


CURNOW: In this house on a suburban streets, watched by local media, Nelson Mandela is no doubt resting. After 19 days in hospital, Mandela's doctors sent him home here to his Johannesburg residents. While this is good news, a statement from the government said that Mandela is still receiving high care, which means behind these walls his doctors and nurses are still closely monitoring and observing him.

While in hospital, Mandela was treated for a lung infection, and had surgery to remove gall stones.

And these are the most recent pictures of him taken in July by CNN at his 94th birthday party in his home surrounded by his large family as he looked bewildered and didn't smile, so different to the vigorous man who fought so hard, endured so much.

Over recent years, though, the former South African president has seemed frail and unsteady on his legs. Public appearances became increasingly rare, just too much effort for a man in his 90s. And those he did make, Mandela sometimes dozed off during speeches and seemed confused.

He's mostly spent his time at this home in Kunu (ph) is the eastern Cape, soothed by the slow pace of the rural rhythms in the hills near his boyhood village. And it's unclear if and when he'll return back to his primary residents here.

For now, though, South Africans are just relieved that he's out of hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mandela's, he our father. We are very happy he's alive. He's now free, back to home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) I can see that is get him strong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm worried about this -- at least if he can manage to reach at least 100 that would be great for us.

CURNOW: A man who gave so much and who is still so deeply revered by anxious South Africans who just wish him well.


CURNOW: OK. You saw from those pictures of Kunu (ph) just how remote, how isolated it is. So you can also see why his doctors haven't sent him to his primary residents there. He's based in his Johannesburg residence where he lived until a few years ago. And we got a sense from the statement made by the presidential spokesperson that doctors were so carefully monitoring him that if there was any change in his status, if there was any sense that he was worsening, that they would send him to the hospitals here around Johannesburg or Pretoria. So that's why they're keeping him close to local facilities rather than sending him back to the rural area.

CLANCY: Robyn Curnow reporting there from Johannesburg, South Africa on the health of Nelson Mandela. Thank you, Robyn.

A ceasefire in the Central African Republic continues to unravel with a coalition of rebel forces now attacking several towns. Wire reports indicate president Francois Bozize is calling on the U.S. and France to help him to resolve the crisis. French President Francois Hollande, however, said his forces will not be used to defend Bozize's government.

The violence in the Central African Republic is prompting the United Nations to temporarily, at least, relocate non-essential personnel. A UN spokesman calls it a precautionary move. As fears mount, the rebel fighters who had promised to pull back may soon launch a new offensive on the capital city of Bangui.

On Sunday, the U.S. State Department authorized non-emergency personnel to leave the capital city.

You're watching News Stream live from CNN Center. President Obama cutting short his family vacation and he's not the only one headed back to Washington.

We'll give you the latest on the fiscal cliff when we return.


CLANCY: We've had health news coming in on Nelson Mandela, former President H.W. Bush, now the prosecutors office in Egypt is telling us the health of the former president there Hosni Mubarak has suddenly worsened and he's returning to a military hospital.

Now Mubarak was ousted from power, as you know, last February, and later sentenced to life imprisonment for failing to stop the killing of people who protested against his government.

Now as these pictures from a 2011 court appearance demonstrate, his health has appeared to suffer since his political downfall.

Back to the United States where the Christmas break has ended for the U.S. Senate and for the U.S. President. Barack Obama cutting short his family vacation to Hawaii. He left late on Wednesday. Why? Well, just two words sum it all up: fiscal cliff.

On January 1, automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts are due to take effect. That was the deadline created by congress and one it is now desperately trying to avoid. The main sticking point is tax increases on higher income earners. Mr. Obama and the Democrats are pushing for them. The Republicans reject them.

As if the political standoff wasn't creating enough pressure on the U.S. economy, the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is warning that within a matter of days the U.S. will hit its borrowing cap. This is America's debt ceiling, $16.4 trillion. Geithner says the Treasury Department will have to take extraordinary measures to stop the government from going above it.

So what is the worst case scenario? If congress can't agree on a deal and if the economists are right the U.S. economy will slip into a recession. To help explain all of this, let's talk with Lisa Desjardins in Washington.

Lisa, great to be with you. What is the fiscal cliff? What is the problem that we face?

LISA DESJARDINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, essentially this is something a lot of our viewers in Europe are very familiar with, the U.S. mounting deficit has become a problem and so congress set up this situation, this deadline for itself to try and save some deficit money, to try and curb back that deficit. However, congress looks like it's not going to be able to meet its own deadline to try and save the U.S. some money, to try and make the government's balance sheet improve.

Let's talk about exactly what the problems are politically, why they're not able to meet that deadline. We're going to show you the graphic here -- first of all, the big issue as you mention is that President Obama and Republicans disagree on how much spending cuts should be made versus how many tax increases should be made to try and make up for the U.S. deficit. The president, of course, wanting more tax increases, especially on the wealthy, Republicans prefer to cut down U.S. spending. It's the mix that's the issue.

The next problem, Jim, Republicans themselves are divided. You know, they came up with a back-up plan about a week ago. And they were not able to pass their own plans, because some in their caucus don't want any tax increases. Some are OK with tax increases for the wealthy.

Finally, as you said, the senate returns to work today. In fact, the Senate will be in, in about an hour-and-a-half, but the House is gone. We don't know when the House will be returning. Both of those chambers, of course, have to pass a deal. We know it will be at least 48 hours before the House returns. That gets us awfully close to that January 1st deadline -- Jim.

CLANCY: OK. So it's not looking bright. A lot of newspapers this morning when I was awake very early, predicting we're going over the cliff. What does that mean? What happens?

DESJARDINS: Yeah, let's get to the bottom line here, this is what everyone wants to know. Here is what happens if Congress does not come up with a deal by January 1st. First of all, taxes in the United States go up 3 to 5 percentage points for nearly everyone, right away. Then, also in January 1st, government spending would be cut about 8 to 10 percent for most government agencies. That's a big hit as well.

Now, before January 1st, actually on December 29th, unemployment benefits for 1 million people who are currently without a job would drop. And then another million would lose unemployment in January as well.

Finally, in January, doctors on Medicare, which is America's health plan for seniors, would get a 27 percent pay cut.

I know all of this sounds irrational, probably, to people outside of the United States, all of these are things that congress put into law intending to fix them later. There is not the money to fix them. And congress has not the willpower so far to make the hard decisions to find that money. And that's why we have this problem -- Jim.

CLANCY: Lisa Desjardins, thank you so much for laying it out, you know, in a clear manner. I think I even understand it a little bit better.

DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

CLANCY: Let's hope the congress figures it out as well.

DESJARDINS: Exactly. Time is ticking.

CLANCY: All right. Lisa reporting to us there live from Washington.

Now, you know, it's not just the fiscal cliff that affects the U.S. today, it's the White House, it's the sideways skids, it's the extreme weather.

Tom Sater is at the World Weather Center with more -- Tom.

TOM SATER, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Jim, this time of year we typically talk about Christmas in the U.S. to be a white Christmas and light snow. And yes we had snow. But we never talk about an outbreak of tornadoes where originally 34 preliminary reports of tornadoes. We were able to scale that back to 20. That has never happened in the U.S. before on Christmas Day.

Typically, yes, I'm sure the U.S. has more tornadoes than any country in the world, hundreds and hundreds more, but not this time of year. But that's what we had across the Deep South, just north of that the violent weather extreme snow and it's all found in the northeast.

As we look at the U.S. picture, you can see where it's really coming down. Unfortunately, there's another storm that will develop taking almost the same path into the weekend. But as we talk about the violent weather, when we go back and look at all the elements, the morning the tornadoes occurred we had high humidity, I mean, it was dense fog advisories for a good nine states.

Little Rock, Arkansas getting 25 centimeters of snow. That's never happened on Christmas Day for 86 years. Greatest snowfall ever for them.

Heavy, heavy amounts of rainfall accompanied by very strong winds. And the winds accompany that storm all the way into the northeast where we have the travel disruptions. And they will continue.

But I want to talk about this tornado, just one of 20. This one was captured by video by several people and surveillance cameras.

Let me show you this, now this is a surveillance camera at a store in Mobile. You're going to see the debris get picked up. There were shoppers inside the store. They were actually leaving just when the winds started to occur. The winds were so strong they opened the automatic doors opened up and they were able to see the debris inside the store as well. So they had to seek shelter immediately.

Just last week, the U.S. did pass a milestone. We made it over 180 days without a tornado related fatality. Well, that came to an end. That's the longest dry stretch in 20 years in the U.S., but unfortunately we had a few fatalities with the storm systems with the tornadoes from eastern Texas.

Here you go, you can see the debris as shoppers had to run quickly. Just amazing pictures.

The amounts of rainfall were heavy. It started out as snow in D.C. changed over to rain, but notice the snowfall totals. I mean, we have a number of daily snowfall records. And it continues to come down. Whiteout conditions for a good 17 states as people were trying to travel. Now the heavy snow is found mainly in the northeast.

Notice the numbers, they will continue to go up.

Interstate travel, it's almost unheard of in some areas that of course you're going to have the backups and you're going to have the emergency crews making rescues, but we're going to find again thousands of delays today and tomorrow in the next couple of days. 1,500 flights canceled yesterday. Several more today as the snow will continue to come down. But it's really the winds. Even without the snowfall, the winds with this system are strong enough to really halt travel.

So that's a big problem we're going to have. The warnings are still in effect. But the next storm system starts to take effect down to the south. Could there be severe weather? Yes. But I don't think all the ingredients are going to be found for an outbreak like we had on Christmas Day. But more snow will start to make its way into the Northeast, Jim. So it's not going to be good for the millions that are going to be traveling. And those that have to get back to the workforce in just a couple of days.

CLANCY: All right. Unless you're traveling with snow shoes and mukluks it's going to be tough sledding as they say.

Tom, thanks.

You're watching News Stream. And coming up India rocked by yet another wave of protests as a victim of a brutal gang rape is struggling for her life.

Also ahead, a diplomatic tit-for-tat between Russia and the U.S. Fierce criticism of that new bill some say plays politics with the fate of tens of thousands of Russian children.


CLANCY: You're with News Stream on CNN. I'm Jim Clancy. And here are your headlines.

The prosecutor's office in Egypt reports the health of former President Hosni Mubarak has worsened. He's returning to a military hospital. Mubarak was ousted from power in February last year. Later, he was sentenced to life in prison for failing to halt the killing of people who protested against his government. As these pictures from a 2011 court appearance demonstrate, his health has appeared to suffer since his political downfall.

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has called for a transitional government in Syria with full powers until elections can be held. He is expected to join key Russian and Syrian officials for talks in Moscow Saturday.

A South African government spokesman says Nelson Mandela is now back at home after spending Christmas in the hospital. The 94 year old former president underwent treatment for a lung infection. He also had an operation to have gall stones removed. Doctors say the Nobel Peace Prize winner will continue receiving treatment at home.

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush remains in intensive care at a Houston hospital. His spokesman says he's been hospitalized since last month, but a series of setbacks prompted doctors to transfer him to the intensive care unit Sunday. The 88 year old is in guarded condition.

Meantime, doctors in Singapore tending to the victim of last week's brutal gang rape in India. The hospital says the 23 year old woman is in extremely critical condition. She's been fighting for her life since the attack which caused severe internal injuries. It's thought she may need an organ transplant.

The horrific assault has prompted massive protests in New Delhi. Demonstrators on Thursday criticized police for cracking down on previous protests. They also called on the government to bring rape cases to trial faster.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is promising swift justice, at least in this case. Six suspects are already in custody. CNN producer Harmeet Singh joins us now from New Delhi.

Harmeet, what can you tell us about the investigation?

HARMEET SINGH, CNN INTERNATIONAL PRODUCER: Police during the call for the investigation (inaudible) have arrested all the six suspects. And driver was the main suspect in this case, the bus driver. And they are fairly young suspects. As far as their age goes, the oldest of them is 33 years old who is the driver. And the youngest was -- is an underage boy. He's a minor.

And it was, in fact, the driver's arrest on December 17 the day after the rape was reported that lead police to other five suspects who were captured from different locations in and outside of New Delhi.

The underage suspect was sent to a children's home. And the other five are in jail to await the trial and police tell us that a (inaudible) will be fined next week as part of the legal proceedings -- Jim.

CLANCY: Harmeet, as we look at this story we've seen the massive protests, but I just wonder how much of an embarrassment this is for the police, for the government, really for the country of India?

SINGH: Jim, when we saw the protests over this case, then suddenly the scale of demonstrations that took place in New Delhi major government district, especially on Saturday and Sunday right at the seat of Indian power was rare. And most of these protesters were students and (inaudible) represented a large constituency of India's young population.

And let's not forget that the Indian government has been under considerable pressure for the past few years now it's faced -- we protest the past year with allegations of mass corruption which it denies of course and it has criticized for its handling of high inflation. And now these massive protests, blasted by water cannons, tear gas and batons in that (inaudible) area. They added to the pressure the Indian government is already in. And although there is no immediate threat to the government, observers say the demonstrations have dealt another huge blow to its reputation -- Jim.

CLANCY: CNN producer Harmeet Singh talking with us on the line there from New Delhi. Thank you, Harmeet.

A feud brewing between Russia and the United States right now. Caught in the middle of it: Russian orphans. Russia's parliament has approved a bill, a bill that bans American families from adopting Russian children. According to wire reports, President Vladimir Putin says he intends to sign it into law. All the while there are hundreds of people in the U.S. waiting to adopt a Russian child.

But there's more to this story. CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney explains.


FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russia's upper house of parliament voted unanimously 143-0 in favor of the adoption ban on Wednesday. Law makers claim abuse on the part of American foster parents, blaming the U.S. for the deaths of 19 Russian children since the 1990s, saying Russia should take care of its orphans on its own.

RUSLAN GATTAROV, RUSSIAN SENATE MEMBER (through translator): I believe that we must have a clear idea about what's happening to our children, to our citizens after they have been adopted. In regards to the U.S., we just don't know.

SWEENEY: But the measure is widely seen as retaliation for a new U.S. law known as the Magnitsky Act, signed earlier this month by President Obama. The law imposes a travel ban and financial restrictions on Russian officials implicated in the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti- corruption lawyer.

Last week, Russian President Putin expressed support for the adoption ban, but some officials within his government have condemned it. And the measure has drawn public protest.

MARINA KOROLYOVA, PROTESTER (through translator): It's an absolutely fascist act, a cannibalistic act. I feel powerlessness. I don't even have hope that they will come to their senses and change the decision. I feel disgust for them. And a big sympathy for those children who will now stay in orphanages.

SWEENEY: Washington officials also have expressed concern, saying children's fate should not be linked to politics.

PATRICK VENTRELL, U.S. STATE DEPT. DEPUTY SPOKESMAN: American families have welcomed more than 60,000 Russian children into American homes over the past 20 years. Just last month, we implemented a bilateral adoptions agreement with Russia to improve safeguards for adopted children and their families.

SWEENEY: Adoption agencies say the United States is the number one foreign destination for Russian orphans with 956 traveling there last year. This agency in St. Petersburg, keeps photos and letters from children who've they've helped find families in America. They warn the consequences of the ban will be dire for the children.

GALINA SIGAYEVA, NEW HOPE CHRISTIAN SERVICES ADOPTION AGENCY (through translator): I think it's very sad. It's no secret that most children are adopted by people in the United States, children who will otherwise will remain here. I can't even imagine who will take them. I think it will lead to a systemic crisis.

SWEENEY: A children's rights official says there are 46 children whose U.S. cases are pending and would not be able to travel to their new homes if President Putin signs the measure into law.

Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN, Atlanta.


CLANCY: Still ahead right here on News Stream, he was a child living in the streets outside Manila, but now he's being hailed as an inspiration for all. The remarkable journey of one boy.


CLANCY: Welcome back, everyone. It was very busy Boxing Day, at least in the Barclay's Premier League. Kind of a mixed bag of fortunes, though, for the two Manchester clubs. Let's kick it over to London and Amanda Davies.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Yes, certainly the red half of Manchester with more festive cheers. Certainly our case that the Boxing Day drama was far better than any of the other drama on the television here in England. It left Manchester United top of the table, seven points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City, after a thrilling 4-3 win over Newcastle at Old Trafford.

Let's have a look at some of the pictures. Three times Newcastle went ahead, three times United came back with Robin Van Persie making it 3-all with 19 minutes left to play, his 13th league goal of the season. Both sides had the chances to win it in the end, but it was Javier Hernandez that grabbed the winner with time added on. So, United got the three points. And it left Sir Alex Ferguson talking of a championship performance from his side.

One piece of bad news for United fans, though, striker Wayne Rooney could be out for up to three weeks with knee ligament damage. He suffered that in training on Christmas Day, was watching from the stands.

Ferguson has been told that he's going to escape any punishment from the football association for his altercation with the referee. Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City boss, might not be so lucky, though. He accused his side to referee of eating too much at Christmas after the defending champions were beaten 1-0 by Sunderland.

It was a former City player, Adam Johnson, who scored the goal that made the difference. He put Sunderland one up seven minutes after halftime at the Stadium of Light, that's how it finished.

Manchester City suffered a third consecutive defeat at the Stadium of Light where they're winless in nearly four-and-a-half years. Soft was the word that Mancini used in reference to his side's attacking strength.


ROBERTO MANCINI, MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER: Too soft in the attack, too soft in any chance, too soft when we shoot. Sometime we don't shoot, we want to do touch more. This is not good. You dominate the game and you have a chance to score. If you don't score after maybe you can lose, like last year the same.


DAVIES: A good Boxing Day for Chelsea as well. They won their match against Norwich. So the gap between second and third now just four points. Chelsea of course have a game in hand over the Manchester club as well. But on the whole it's United who will be very satisfied with Wednesday's results because they've now got that seven point lead at the top.

Away from football, the Denver Nuggets broke the L.A. Lakers five game winning streak in the NBA on Wednesday beating them 126-114. It was a result that the Lakers star Pau Gasol describes as a little bit of a setback.

Gasol found himself on the deck in the second quarter as Cory Brewer for the Nuggets 40-32 ahead in the second quarter. He tied a career high 27 points who made the clearance off the bench.

Another impressive night for Kobe. He had 40 points as he extended his streak of 30 plus games to 10, but ultimately it was wasted as the Lakers lost for the first time in six games.

Dwight Howard added to the frustration in the third quarter, knocking down Kenneth Faried hard. Howard got called for the flagrant foul and then got his marching orders for his troubles.

Six players scored in double figures for the Nuggets, including Andre Iguodala here laying up JaVale McGee for the jam. He finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. And Corey Brewer really helped his side to the win, finding his three point touch in the second half. It was a night he talked about the basket getting big as he went 6 for 7 from long range.

In the end it was 126-114 to the Nuggets.

The Lakers have been doing so well as well, Jim, but full sports roundup in World Sport in just over three hours time. I hope you can join me then.

CLANCY: All right. Well, Amanda, before you go, let me ask you something. As we draw towards the end of the year, the issue of racism in football coming right to the fore. And UEFA seems to be saying maybe we ought to up the fines that we're imposing on some of these clubs. Is there a sense in sport that that will make a difference?

DAVIES: I think people, Jim, at this point are keeping their fingers crossed and very much hoping. So I know you're referring to the incident at the Serbia-England under 21 game back in October where UEFA have, they're basically calling into question and appealing the disciplinary measures that were put in place by their very own disciplinary and control panel. People are hoping that initially when the panel were looking at the incidence of racism this would be the time when UEFA, European football's governing body, were going to stand up and really make a point to these fans in the stands. But the UEFA president Michel Platini didn't feel that the initial sanctions imposed were strong enough.

To put it into context, $105,000 the Serbia FA were fined, that was less than one player was fined earlier in June at the European Championships for putting a sponsor's banner on his shorts. So it really was a paltry fine.

This is the time when UEFA could take a stand and people very much hoping so. It just remains to be seen whether they will actually do it and impose a sanction that the fans actually feel, becuase the criticism in the past is that a financial fine to an organization or a club doesn't really have any impact to the fans who sit in the stands and other people who actually make these disgusting chants and gestures. So it will be very interesting to see what happens.

CLANCY: Amanda Davies there from London with a little outlook on some of the most controversial stories on sport from 2012 and how it might change next year. Thank you.

Well, as many around the world celebrate the holidays, we want to tell you about a remarkable young man. He is from the Philippines. And this young guy embodies the spirit of giving. He spent much of his young life on the streets. Didn't have a home, didn't have a family, now at the ripe old age of 14 he's not only changed his own life, but he's an inspiration to others. Suzanne Malveaux has more.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At age five, Kesz Valdez was living on the streets of Cavit City (ph) just outside Manila in the Philippines. He survived by scavanging in the garbage dump and begging for money in the marketplace. He drank water from sewage canals. And slept in an open tomb in the cemetery. A life without joy, changed forever by a horrible accident that threatened to make it even worse.

KESZ VALDEZ, GREW UP IN STREETS OF MANILA: One evening, when I was waiting for the garbage truck to arrive, somebody pushed me into a pile of burning tires. My back and my arm got burned.

MALVEAUX: Though his recovery was punctuated by extreme pain, he calls this his baptism by fire. He was rescued by community activists Harnin Manalaysay who became his guardian.

HARNIN MANALAYSAY, KESZ'S GUARDIAN: That day probably was the first day in his life that he felt loved, accepted and cared for.

MALVEAUX: On his seventh birthday, Mr. Harnin helped Kesz obtain his birth certificate so he could attend school. But Kesz's special birthday wish was to give, not just receive.

VALDEZ: My birthday wish is to also to give children, street children, the things that I received. We started Hope Gifts, the gift of hope, like the toys, the candies, and the sleepers.

MALVEAUX: Kesz passed them out to those who share his plight. That was six years ago. Now he's got his own organization championing community children that he says has helped 10,000 street kids, supplying them with everything from tooth brushes to sandals to snacks.

His efforts have won worldwide recognition. This past September, Kesz was awarded the international children's peace prize by South Africa's archbishop Desmond Tutu.

According to a study sanctioned by the group that handed out that award, more than 150,000 homeless children are living without families on the streets of Manila. Kesz presented the report to Philippines President Benigno Aquino.

Kesz was inspired by the work of Efren Penaflorida who was chosen CNN's 2009 Hero of the Year for bringing education to Manila's street children through his mobile pushcart classrooms. Now Kesz hopes to be an inspiration to others.

VALDEZ: I am representing the children, the Filipino children, the street children, to give them hope.


CLANCY: Suzanne Malveaux reporting there. Remarkable young man, remarkable story.

Well, still ahead right here on News Stream, it's the time of year most of us go to the movies see something. Rise of the Guardians is DreamWork's latest animated feature. We're going to have the remarkable story behind the film as soon as we come back.

Stay with us.


CLANCY: It is the most retweeted movement of 2012 and actually of all-time. U.S. President Barach Obama posted this victory message on election day. It's now been retweeted by nearly 820,000 people in more than 200 countries. He and First Lady Michelle Obama sat down with ABC News program Nightline and explain the now famous image.


BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEW ANCHOR: When you look at this picture, what do you think? At what point was it taken?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we were campaigning in Iowa.

WALTERS: So why were you hugging her so hard in Iowa?

BARACK OBAMA: Because I love my wife.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Well, and also I hadn't seen him in awhile. I mean, when you're campaigning they have -- we're two ships passing in the night.

And the first time I saw him was when I walked on stage to greet him. And that's my honey giving me a hug.


CLANCY: Well, it's a tough business, but that hasn't stopped Peter Ramsy, he's not only succeeding in Hollywood, he's also breaking down barriers, becoming the first African-American to direct a major animated feature. Nischelle Turner meets the man behind Rise of the Guardians.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he is, Jack Frost.



TURNER: You made your mark.

RAMSEY: Yes. And you kind of have to pinch yourself and look around and remember like, oh, my God, I'm working on those characters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Easter bunny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tooth fairy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprise. TURNER: These aren't your daddy's childhood heroes?

RAMSEY: No, they're not.

TURNER: I heard you describe Santa as a Hell's Angel with a heart of gold.

RAMSEY: That's him. That's him. He's not just this little, you know, jolly full of belly little guy. He lives at the North Pole. The toughest place in the world. This guy's an adventurer. All these guardians, they represent very specific things. You know, hope, dreams, memories, fun.

TURNER: The Peter Ramsey story.

RAMSEY: Well, you -- but it's everybody's story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be epic.

TURNER: Do you remember your first time going to the movies?

RAMSEY: I must have been around four years old. It was Disney's "Snow White." And I'm sure I fell asleep before it was over, but it was magic.

TURNER: Really?

RAMSEY: Magical, yes.

TURNER: That's what stuck with you?

RAMSEY: That really stuck with me. Just had these giant images coming at you on the -- from the screen and the emotion hits you. And I think that feeling, the emotion of it, is what really set me on the path.

TURNER: I know a lot of times it's hard to dream bigger than what you see every day.

RAMSEY: Yes. I had a head full of dreams. It was like how do you go the step of making those dreams into reality. Even though I grew up, you know, five, six miles away from Hollywood, I had no idea that real people make movies. There was no uncles who were actors or no, you know, directors or producers that we -- nothing like that.

TURNER: You were just the Ramseys from south central?

RAMSEY: We were just -- yes.

It's the North Pole. It's a place you've always tried to get into. It's a dream of yours.

HERBERT RAMSEY, FATHER: I think we both conveyed to him that he could do better than just people in the area that we were living.

PAULINE RAMSEY, MOTHER: He was always a busy, inquisitive kid. Wanted to ask questions all the times that I did not always know the answer. But we had books in the house.

H. RAMSEY: I knew he was going to be something special.

RAMSEY: Yes, yes. Oh, yes, that's great.

TURNER: I get the impression that the gravity of what you have achieved, being the first African-American filmmaker to direct a big budget animated film, didn't really set in at first.

RAMSEY: No, I don't think it did. It wasn't until there had been an article written about me in a newspaper, and I looked up and I saw the tears in my dad's eyes. And it all came back to me. It does kind of matter. It does --

TURNER: It's more than work.

RAMSEY: It's -- yes. I've been talking to a lot of kids at schools. And you can just see it. They'll never have that thing of saying, oh, nobody like me could do that. Nobody like me could do that. And that's the most rewarding thing of all.

TURNER: And now they say somebody like me did that.

RAMSEY: Exactly.


CLANCY: All right. Now to one of my favorite stories of the day that illicits really strong feelings. It's a kind of a social media spat that involves the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Now, take a look at this, here's a tweet from Randi Zuckerberg, that's his sister, and it says this, "digital etiquette, always ask permission before posting a friend's photo publicly. It's not about privacy settings, it's about human decency."

Well, that was in response to the release of a family photo that Zuckerberg -- she posted it to Facebook. She thought only her friends could see it, but you guessed it, her privacy settings weren't quite right, so someone who wasn't supposed to see it did and then they shared it. I mean, the photo doesn't really reveal anything.

But here's what may have happened, when you upload a photo to Facebook you pick the privacy settings. But even when you select only friends Facebook includes friends of friends of anyone who is tagged in that picture. Now if that's not what you want, then you have to select custom instead. Got that? From there, you can un-include friends of anyone tagged. But you have to remember to take that extra step.

By the way, Randi Zuckerberg is a former Facebook director.

Now, you could also do this for 2013, you could shut down your Facebook and go out and find a real friend and cultivate that friendship throughout the year. Get off the computer.

Before we go, I want to show you some incredible pictures -- I do like photography -- surveillance cameras caught this moment. It's an aquarium full of sharks, turtles and fish and it burst in the middle of a shopping mall in Shanghai, China. Surprise, surprise. I'll have the fish. It sent the glass -- it sent creatures flying into the crowd, water even sweeping away a man standing in front of the tank. Chinese state media reports 16 people were injured. Sadly, three of the sharks, dozens of turtles and fish were killed. They are no longer with us in going into 2013.

Well, that's News Stream for now. But the news continues right here on CNN. World Business Today is straight ahead.